We know that it is important to properly maintain your car to keep it running smoothly. However, too many of us know too little about our vehicles and continue to waste time and money on maintenance that isn’t needed. Here are five of the biggest maintenance myths.
Myth #1: Change Oil Every 3,000 Miles
Although this myth was debunked years ago, you may still believe that you need to change your engine oil every 3,000 miles. Doing so is a waste of money. According to Ford Motors, if you own a newer car (2008 and up) and have normal driving habits, you need to change your vehicle’s oil every 7,500 miles or every six months. Older Ford models can go 5,000 miles or six months before needing an oil change. However, this is a conservative number as there are several synthetic oils that are made to last 25,000 miles, 700 operating hours or one year, whichever comes first.
Myth #2: All-Season Tires Provide Better Traction on Wet Roads
You usually purchase one of three basic tires: regular tires (or summer tires), snow tires and all-season tires. You may believe that, of the three, all-season tires provide the best traction in rainy conditions. While all-season tires provide good traction on various road conditions (including moderate snow), they aren’t better in the rain than regular tires. Regular tires are made from softer rubber than snow and all-season tires, which gives them a better grip in the rain than other versions.
Myth #3: Transmission Leaks = A Bad Seal
You usually learn about a transmission leak by seeing a pool of transmission fluid under your vehicle, which causes you to assume that the leak is due to a bad seal. However, that isn’t always the case. There are many working parts that could be associated with a leak, such as gaskets, o-rings, loose bolts and over-tightened drain plugs. A mechanic cannot be sure that it is strictly a bad seal until he or she properly inspects it, so you must keep in mind these other causes.
Myth #4: Warming up Your Engine
When automobiles relied on carburetors, warming your car’s engine was important. However, thanks to fuel injection, you no longer need to do this before hitting the road. It is better to let your engine warm up by driving, as idling isn’t good for your engine. Just don’t gun it until the engine has reached operating temperature. One caveat: Your heater won’t blow hot air until the heater core gets hot and you may need to warm up your car to defrost your windows in the winter.
Myth #5: Fuel Additives Improve Efficiency
There is no shortage of fuel additives that claim to improve a vehicle’s fuel economy. However, the Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about using fuel additives and has gone after additive producers for making false claims. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not found any scientific evidence to support that fuel additives can improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. You are much more likely to harm your vehicle by using these products. The EPA recommends that you do the following to improve your fuel economy instead: avoid idling, limit vehicle weight, perform regular vehicle maintenance, use cruise control on highways and check your tire pressure regularly.